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Dasuki Vs. FG: ECOWAS Court fixes October 4th as judgment day

The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has fixed 4th October 2016 to deliver judgment in the suit filed…

The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has fixed 4th October 2016 to deliver judgment in the suit filed by Retired Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser to a former Nigerian President, against the Federal Republic of Nigeria over the alleged violation of his human rights.

 Honorable Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke, who is presiding over the case, said the judgment, which could not take place on the initial scheduled date due to the retreat of the Judges and other statutory meetings of the Court, will now take place after the Court’s vacation.

 In suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/01/16, Colonel Dasuki, alleged the violation of his human rights by the government over his detention since December 2015 despite three orders by Nigerian Courts granting him bail and the seizure of his properties.

 Proceedings in the case ended with the conclusion of oral evidence by two officers of the Department of State Security who appeared as witnesses for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 Led in evidence by Mr. T. A. Agbe, Counsel to the government Mr. Williams Obiora and Mr.Alu Agbi told the Court that the continued detention of Col. Dasuki was for his own protection following intelligence report available to the service and also because he constitutes a threat to national security.

 They said that section 3 of the FirearmsAct, CAP F28 LFN 2004 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria prescribes the arms that cannot be licensed to individuals and that the arms found in Dasuki`s house during an authorized search fell within the category of  such arms.

 Since the possession of such arms is illegal, they said there was a presumption that they were meant for illegal use while the government suspects that there were more of such arms elsewhere.

 The officers also told the Court that national security supersedes individual security and that the law permits the DSS to restrict the movement of any citizen when his life is in danger.

 Counsel to the government also argued that the seizure of Col. Dasuki’s property was allowed under the law that established the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a government agency that investigates financial crimes, particularly proceeds of crime.

 He also dismissed the argument of the plaintiff that he was granted bail by Nigerian courts of competent jurisdiction as there is no evidence to show that he has fulfilled the bail conditions for his release and urged the Court to discountenance all the reliefs sought by the applicant and dismiss the case in its entirety.

 However, Counsel to the former NSA, Mr. Robert Emukperuo, urged the Court to disregard the defendant’s submissions as they were at variance with the documents filed but rather grant the application of his client in its entirety. Moreover, he said that the submissions of the first witness alluded to safety and possibility of escape and not national security contrary to one of the documents tendered by the defence.

 He had earlier urged the Court to grant all the 13 reliefs sought by the applicant as there is no contestation that the applicant is in detention, adding that the Nigerian government had arraigned him before three different high courts on corruption charges which granted him bail before he was rearrested on December 29, 2015 and has since remained in detention.

According to him, the critical issue that needs to be addressed is whether there is any legal basis for the detention other than the recourse to national security in the light of the sensitive arms or high caliber arms found in his house. He contended that the defence did not adduce before the Court any judicial procedure for his incarceration, describing the detention as a classic case of arbitrary and illegal arrest.

 Col. Dasuki had approached the Court seeking 500 million in damages for the alleged violation of his human rights.

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